Implement a tool in a phased approach

Not all organizations are at the same level in implementing best practices. The standards are often high, and it is difficult to meet them. Even choosing just one aspect or control, the task seems insurmountable. For those organizations that are a little reluctant to implement new things, I suggest using a progressive implementation method.

Standards exist in all areas. Standards, frameworks, methodologies or tools enhance them. For example, if you want to improve productivity, you’ll turn to operational excellence. You will find Lean and Agile philosophies, Six Sigma, Scrum, PDCA, Kaizen or Hoshin Kanri methodologies and a plethora of tools such as the 5 S’s, SMED, visual management, or the spaghetti diagram. It’s the same when you want to include information security in your corporate culture. You can have a risk management approach, DevSecOps, use different benchmarks to measure your security posture. I can’t count the number of technology solutions and suppliers that will support you.

Once you have chosen your tool, the hardest part is to implement it and make sure that it is used and that it brings benefits. The principle of phased implementation is to further reduce the scope, it is not a pilot, but the deployment of a step of the methodology or an aspect of the tool.

Implement the 5S in a phased approach

Let’s take the example of the 5 S’s. Instead of implementing the 5 S’s in a defined area, a reduced sector, you implement it in a progressive way: you start with only the first “S” (eliminate). Once you understand the technique, you implement the second “S”, and so on. This gives the teams time to familiarize themselves and master part of the tool before continuing. They learn at their own pace and grow with the gradual deployment. In this incremental approach, it is possible to move the entire organization forward at the same pace, or to do staggered launches by sector. It will depend on the sensitivity of the managers.

This gradual implementation technique – very small steps – applies to all tools and concepts. It’s continuous improvement in the purest sense, and for me the best way to get a reluctant organization moving. With these baby steps, the initial commitment is less, but once taken, they provide an incentive to continue. Anyone who wants to use this method must keep in mind their final goal and choose the small steps to take.

Other examples

  • Performance indicators: to move from old indicators to new ones that are more relevant to the day-to-day management of operations, we can start by changing an indicator and introducing a new way of measuring and managing it. Once it has proven itself, it will be easier to review all the others.
  • SMED: we start by observing and identifying the operations that can be done in hidden time. When they are all corrected, the non-value added operations are tackled (or the reverse).
  • Kanban: it is introduced on a reference, a product that is visible.
  • Scrum: we start by posting an indicator or the “Agile” thought of the week, or we put a whiteboard and gather the team around it to give (and write down) the important information of the day/week.